Dissociative symptoms are related to endorsement of vague trauma items

H. Merckelbach*, M. Jelicic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In current psychiatric literature, the received view is that dissociative symptoms originate from aversive childhood events. To a large extent, this view is based on cross-sectional studies that do not rule out a scenario in which dissociative tendencies contribute to self-reports of childhood trauma. In two studies, we tested one particular implication of this scenario, namely, that dissociative symptoms are related to endorsement of vague rather than specific items about childhood trauma. In study 1 (N = 43) and study 2 (N = 127), nonclinical participants completed standard measures of dissociation, childhood trauma, and fantasy proneness. We performed correlational and regression analyses on the data. Fantasy proneness and responses to broad trauma items, but not responses to factual trauma items predicted dissociation levels. This pattern of findings shows that the link between trauma and dissociation is considerably more complex than is often assumed. As well, it suggests that at least in nonclinical samples, dissociative symptoms may breed endorsement of vague trauma items.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-75
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004

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